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Islam has a culture of its own, where there are rituals, traditions, celebrations, events and so on. This is the reason why Muslims all across the globes find it easy to assimilate with each other as they all share the core cultural values that are brought to them by Islam.
In addition to the core rituals and traditions, there are some upon which the different sects of Islam disagree with each other on whether they should be celebrated or not. One of such rituals is the celebrations in the form of worshipping at the 15th night of Shaban, which is also known as ‘Shab e Baraat’.
There is a difference of opinion with regards to celebration or observance of Shab e Barat. The lines below give the opinion of both the school of thoughts pertaining to Shab e Barat in Islam.
The first school of thought has the opinion that Shab e Barat cannot be proved through the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Quran, therefore, this is a Bidah and one should not celebrate Shab e Barat. People belonging to this school of thought are of the opinion that the verse of Quran that is taken as a support for celebration of Shab e Barat is actually a verse that was revealed pertaining to the Night of Power that takes place in the month of Ramadan. The verse is:
“Verily, We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al-Qadr.” (97:1)
Thus, this school of thought believes that the Shab e Barat is a night mistakenly taken up by Muslims and all the celebrations, which Muslims undertake pertaining to this night should not be performed.
Moreover, this particular school of thought is also of the opinion that the lightning of mosques, the praying in congregation, the visiting of graveyard and the fasting on the day of 15th Shaban are also things that are either not proven from the life of Prophet (PBUH) as He might have done all these on different occasions, however, He did not make a practice out of it. Further to that, this school of thought believes that whatever few hadiths that are related to Shab e Barat are weak hadith and their authenticity cannot be relied upon.
Hence, for people from this school of thought the celebration and observance of the 15th of Shaban is nowhere proven in Islam and hence it is not allowed to do so.
On the other hand, there is the other school of thought which is of the opinion that in Islam 15th of Shaban is one of the most sacred nights in the Islamic year. As per this school of thought there is evidence from hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that 15th of Shaban is one of the sacred nights and a Muslim must also offer special prayers in this night to fulfill the Sunnah of Prophet (PBUH). The hadith put forward by this school of thought is narrated by Hazrat Ali (RA) in which he tells that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“When it is the fifteenth night of Shaban observe prayer during the night and observe fast during the day; for Allah descends to the heaven of the world as the sun sets and says: Is there anyone to seek forgiveness so that I should forgive him? Is there anyone to seek sustenance so that I should provide him? Is there anyone in trouble so that I may relieve him? And so on and so forth, until the dawn breaks.” (Ibn Majah)
From this hadith it is inferred that a Muslim must celebrate the 15th of Shaban as a night full of blessings where Allah Almighty comes to earthly sky and throughout the night He goes on calling on mankind to turn to Him and ask Him of things so that He could grant them whatever they wished for and what they want in life.
Thus, this hadith is what is put forward by this school of thought pertaining to their celebration of Shab e Barat on the 15th of Shaban. Therefore, they stay up during the night offering different kinds of prayers to earn greater reward from Allah Almighty, visit the grave yard and supplicate for the forgiveness of those who have passed away from this world and then keep fast during the day to make sure that they did all they can do to honor this night.
In short, there can be no definite conclusion to whether Shab e Barat must be celebrated or not, as both the schools of thought have their opinion and justification to celebrate or not celebrate Shab e Barat. However, the need is that both the schools should accept the opinion of each other. Those who celebrate Shab e Barat should not try forcing their opinion on those who do not do so, whereas those who do not celebrate it should let the others celebrate Shab e Barat and consider all there worshiping as regular worshiping and fasting as a regular fast instead of condemning their action. If both the school of thought can reach this mutual acceptance for each other, then the issue will no more be there and all will take place in a normal fashion.